For people with hearing loss, it can be difficult to hear in group settings, even for those who use hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. In the workplace, this translates into having difficulty during meetings. Make sure to check with your employees who are hard of hearing to get their perspective on what will help them the most. Also, here are some things that you can do to make meetings run more smoothly for your employees with hearing loss, whether they use assistive listening devices or not:
- Provide the person with hearing loss, or all employees, with an agenda ahead of the meeting so that he or she has text to follow along with. It’s always helpful for people with hearing loss if they know the context and topic of conversation.
- Try to book a conference room that has a round table, rather than one with a rectangular table. A round table gives better visual access to others’ faces, which is important for people with hearing loss who rely upon speechreading to supplement their hearing.
- Speak clearly and at a normal pace. When addressing the person with hearing loss, make sure to get his or her attention by using his or her name first, and turn to face that person while speaking.
- Consider training other employees on tips for speaking with someone with hearing loss, including keeping their hands away from their faces; rephrasing when miscommunication occurs, rather than repeating; and seeking out an environment with ample lighting and minimal background noise.
- Seek out another colleague to take notes for the person with hearing loss.
- Invest in an FM system or looped room, which can help amplify sound for people with hearing loss who wear hearing aids that have a telecoil.
- Invest in a captioning system, such as real-time captioning (RTC), which projects captions on a large screen or laptop in real-time so people with hearing loss are able to follow along during the meeting without missing a thing.
- Another option is computerized note-taking, which is provided by a fast typist or transcription expert. It doesn’t work in real-time but is a good, cost-effective option.
- If you are leading the meeting, make sure to repeat employee questions before answering them to make sure that people with hearing loss have heard.